God’s ways are not our own. We expect a conquering king and hero, but Jesus instead leads us down the road to Jerusalem and humbles himself on the cross. God changes our plans and replaces them with a love broader and deeper than anything we could imagine.
1Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
2The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and his anointed, saying,
3"Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us."
4He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the LORD has them in derision.
5Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6"I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill."
7I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, "You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
10Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11Serve the LORD with fear,
with trembling 12kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are all who take refuge in him.
13See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
14Just as there were many who were astonished at him
— so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals —
15so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
32They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again."
Friends in Christ,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
We’re in the final week of our midweek Lenten series on “Making Change” and the theme for this week is “Change of Plans.” If there was ever a time in our lives when we were experiencing a change of plans, it’s certainly now. We’ve been under the Governor’s “Stay at Home” order since March 21st, and learned today that it’s been extended till April 30th. We all know in our hearts it’s necessary, yet it changes so many of our plans. Here at church, it’ll be the first time we won’t be able to hold in-person worship services for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. We’ll post videos to our website and hope that you’ll worship from home. For many years we decorated the wooden cross for Easter. The cross was made from the last real Christmas tree we had and we had a tradition of covering it with Easter lilies and other flowers for Easter Sunday. The first glimpse of it would be visible when the tympani hit at the moment of sunrise, and lights would be turned up for the service. But due to the pandemic, we face a change of plans.
In our Gospel reading for today, we see Jesus walking with the disciples. They expected a conquering king, but instead Jesus led them down the path to Jerusalem, and humbled himself on the cross, for them and for us. He did what we could not do for ourselves. Yes, I’m sure the disciples were scared and there was a heaviness in the air, but we too need that same devotion. We need to follow him, especially in times of fear and uncertainty, times like we find ourselves in now. He died and rose again so that we would be saved. And we are saved not by our own good works or merit, but by God’s grace and mercy for us. And as we follow him, and our plans change, our hearts are changed as well, and replaced with a love broader and deeper than anything we could imagine.
The Coronavirus pandemic has affected all of us. This evening it hit home for me personally. They said it wouldn’t be long before someone we knew died from COVID19 and this evening I learned that my beloved veterinarian and friend of 37 years had succumbed to this virus. I was sad and in shock when I read the news and was reminded that all are vulnerable. He was a man who spent his whole life caring for and healing God’s creatures, but this dreadful virus took his life, and so many grieve his loss tonight. My peace in is knowing that his faith gave him confidence that he would be welcomed home by his Savior, and that through the power of the cross, Jesus defeated death so that we could spend eternity with him.
As we prepare our hearts for Holy Week, clothe yourself with the full armor of God and rest secure that God’s hands will wrap you in the safety of his presence. As you face uncertain and changing times, dwell on these words from Isaiah 41:10:
do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
Please pray with me:
O God, you offer so much more than our own limited plans envision. You take our place, becoming our salvation through the cross. As we prepare for Holy Week, strengthen our hearts and minds to follow Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. When we betray like Judas, deny like Peter, and scatter like the disciples, forgive our frailties. Bring us the promise of resurrection and new life in you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
And now may the Lord of peace give you peace at all times and in all ways. In the name of the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.